Paul Scholes’ 100th Premier League goal gave Man United a very undeserved win away against a Wolves team which dominated both halves of the game, and had they possessed a better strike force, Man Utd could have been easily down by 3 or more goals by half time. Man Utd were without their talisman, Rooney, and this has proved that United are a one-man team judging the quality of the football they played today, but destiny favored them as they managed to scrap away the 3 points, and become temporary leaders with 2 points ahead of both Chelsea and Arsenal, Chelsea not playing in the EPL this weekend as they are involved in the FA Cup ties, while Arsenal have played earlier today, and won 3-1 against Burnley, thus leveling them on points with the Blues, but like Man Utd having played 1 game more.
Wolves were the better side of the day since kickoff, as United with only Berbatov upfront, were not able to deploy their usual footballing style, and with Wolves’ players cutting the link between the midfield and attack, United looked in complete disarray, while Wolves piled the pressure on them, with Doyle leading their attack, and causing trouble to the back line of United, which for this game welcomed back the usual defenders, namely Ferdinand, Vidic and Brown, after a long time of absence. But although this was good news for the team, the players were up to a more aggressive Wolves team, not the one which came at Old Trafford some months ago. Doyle nearly scored the opener in the first half, while United’s response was rather timid, with Gibson missing a good opportunity, while Berbatov was nonexistent throughout the first half, while Nani and Valencia on the wings were being marked closely.
Half -time 0-0, the second half start was not brilliant as well by United. Sir Alex may be sensing his team was being totally outplayed even made a half time change, which is unusual, by bringing on Neville for Brown. This change however proved to be somewhat efficient, as when Valencia was going forward, he now had some support from Neville, which was not the case with Brown. We had to wait for the 72nd minute to finally see a goal, as Nani’s pass in the box was not cleared properly, and the ball fell to Scholes, who used all his experience to feign a first time shot, fooled the defender nearest to him, and then shot across goal to score his 100th Premier League goal, which in the end proved to be the winner, although at the other end, in injury time, substitute Vokes, for whom it was his first Premier League appearance, missed the equalizer twice, thus allowing a cagey United to hold on to the vital goal and move to the top spot in the league table temporarily.
It has to be noted though that the match turned in United’s favor only after they switched back to a 4-4-2 formation with the introduction of Mame Diouf for Gibson, and then later on Park for Nani to allow more movements on the wings. Berbatov at one time was even being jeered by the traveling United supporters, as his languid style once again was against him, and he spent most of his time complaining rather than put pressure on the opposition players. Diouf even managed to miss 2 clear chances to kill off the game, and had Vokes’ scored the equalizer, am sure he would have felt the full power of the infamous ‘hair-dryer’ in the dressing room after the game.
Hopefully Wayne Rooney will be deemed fit to play against AC Milan for the Champions League return leg game at Old Trafford in midweek, else Milan could easily get a win and qualify if United play like they did today.
Arsenal for their part rather easily saw off Burnley, 3-1 the final score, and this win levels them on points with Chelsea, but the Gunners as well need to stay focused as they face Porto in midweek as well, and they had lost the first leg 2-1 due to some stupid mistakes, which am sure will not repeat themselves this time, but they may be missing Fabregas due to an injury, as he had to be subbed in the first half itself in today’s game, after he had scored the opener.